Sign my petition in support of my Justice is Not for Sale Act and say you’ve had enough of millionaires and billionaires profiting by keeping more and more Americans behind bars.
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Today in America, shamefully, we have more people in jail than any other country on earth. The United States is home to 4.4 percent of the world’s population, and 22 percent of its prisoners. A significant reason for this is because companies that profit from prisons have spent millions of dollars lobbying for laws that needlessly keep people behind bars for far too long.
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I have recently introduced legislation that will put an end to for-profit prisons. My bill will bar federal, state, and local governments from contracting with private companies who manage prisons, jails, or detention facilities. And it will require Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to improve their monitoring of prisons and eliminate private detention centers within two years. The private for-profit prison racket is a $70 billion industry, and with so much money at stake, it’s not surprising they’ve corrupted our political process. The industry has contributed millions of dollars to candidates in pursuit of laws that increase incarceration of nonviolent offenders — a practice that disproportionately impacts people of color in the United States. We must stop the practice of governments guaranteeing prison occupancy as part of deals with private corporations that incentive states to keep prison cells filled. And we must halt the practice of private companies charging exorbitant rates for prisoners to contact their families by phone — sometimes up to several dollars per minute to talk with loved ones, and charging outrageous service fees to prisoners trying to access their money upon release. That kind of exploitation takes an already complicated family dynamic between husbands, wives, parents and children and strains it even further.
It is wrong to profit from the incarceration of human beings and the suffering of their families and friends. It’s time to end this morally repugnant process, and along with it, the era of mass incarceration.
But my legislation goes even further. It also takes steps to reduce our bloated inmate population by reinstating the federal parole system so that officials can individually assess each prisoner’s risk and the chance for rehabilitation. It ends the immigrant detention quota, which requires officials to hold a minimum of 34,000 people captive at any given time. And it would end the detention of immigrant families, many of whom are currently detained in privately-owned facilities in Texas and Pennsylvania.
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If we act, not only can we prevent thousands of lives from being destroyed, but we can save billions of taxpayer dollars.
This legislation enjoys a broad coalition of support on both sides of the aisle. And if we stand together and continue to bring attention to this issue, we can put a stop to the abomination of private prisons profiting from human suffering.
Thank you for standing with me.